Andreya Triana Andreya TrianaLost Where I Belong
If you have the good fortune to own a flat with a lordly terrace, and you don’t know what music to put on for that post-summer dinner with friends, run and get the debut album by Andreya Triana. The jazzy waves, mellow tones and smooth texture of her exotic vocal chords will be enough for your guests to consider you the coolest person in the solar system. Who knows, you might even get lucky as a result of your exquisite taste as a DJ-host. The truth is that the new performer, signed by Ninja Tune, who we had already begun to enjoy on two maxis complete with remixes by Flying Lotus and Mount Kimbie, can keep your musical proposal in perfect balance on that line where music for car advertisements and independent artistry come together. The electronic nu-soul radicals won’t feel comfortable with the whiff of coffee table music, but those who are crazy about Des’ree and similar will also find “Where I Belong” a hard bone to chew. We have to attribute that somewhere-in-the-middle groove to Simon Green, a.k.a. Bonobo. The producer with the simian alias has made himself known for his tact when it comes to updating that genre formerly known as acid jazz, and his recent “Black Sands”, also for Ninja Tune, accredits him as a capable alchemist. He isn’t doing anything new, he isn’t looking for the electronic grail, but his blends of real instrumentation and trip-hop, jazz, and soul fulfil their mission, which is none other than to sound like a gentle background noise so that Andreya’s vocal warmth shines as brightly as possible.
In the magnificent “Draw the Stars”, a bass and some tenuous violins become a nearly imperceptible rug so that the London performer can walk upon it barefoot. Her warbling, by the way, is black delicatessen. The whole album works under these parameters. Bonobo plants the garden with relaxed, summery, nocturnal, dreamy backgrounds, so that the lady’s voice makes good that expression, “it’s mostly the voice,” coined by Guru during the best years of Gang Starr. In the song that gives the album its name, for example, we only hear a sunset-at-the-beach acoustic guitar, the occasional chords, and a drum brush; it is when Andreya enters that the fabric of the composition takes on all of its texture and colour. Yes, we could say that the album bases itself entirely on the plush throat of an artist who has managed to find a tone halfway between celebration and melancholy: her melodic airs reach us sometimes like whispers, other times like laments, at times as the confiding of a lover after having sex, at times sending messages of restrained optimism. She knows how to maintain a mood and how to perfectly wring the most out of the smoking, bluesy voice that God has given her. In cuts like “Daydreamer” (is it just me, or does it remind you of Portishead?) she offers a major demonstration of versatility and vocal strength, going from falsettos to the most cavernous tones with an impressive fluidity: it’s the best moment of a short album, barely nine songs, which reveals to us a powerful singer and makes us think inevitably of the next LP. I’ve got nothing against Bonobo’s jazzy breaks, but I think the stakes need to be raised: with a more risky co-pilot as producer, the new hope of black British soul will stop being just another possibility to become something much more serious and much bigger. With ambition, miracles are possible. Óscar Broc